New tobacco pitch seeks sales ban near schools 

The latest plan to vastly reduce cigarette vendors in San Francisco would prohibit the hawking of tobacco products within 1,000 feet of schools, where more than half The City’s sellers currently operate.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is set to introduce legislation Tuesday calling for a ban on new tobacco permits for vendors who want to set up shop near public and private grammar and high schools.

Of the 1,008 shops currently selling tobacco products in The City, 617 operate within the proposed 1,000-foot prohibition zone, according to data provided by the Mayor’s Office.

Newsom’s legislation would not invalidate tobacco permits for those retailers. However, the permits would expire and could not be renewed when the owner sells the business. Permits only would remain valid if owners transfer them to immediate family members.

The plan would gradually eliminate tobacco sales near schools through attrition, the Mayor’s Office said. Limiting sales would help keep cigarettes out of children’s hands, according to the proposal.

“The research still shows students start smoking and smoke more frequently when cigarette retailers are close by,” Newsom said.

The legislation is certain to be controversial among The City’s small businesses, but less so than a previous proposal to impose a cap of 35 permits for each of the 11 supervisor districts, the Mayor’s Office said.

That proposal — which was recently pitched by local anti-tobacco advocates but has yet to gain political traction — would reduce by more than two-thirds the number of stores currently selling tobacco products citywide, also through attrition.

Janet Clyde, a commissioner in the Office of Small Business, said she would support banning tobacco sales near schools. However, restricting owners from transferring existing permits to anyone but family members would be unfair, she said.

The value of a business decreases when it can no longer sell tobacco products, she said.

“There’s an economic impact to that,” Clyde said. “The simplest and most appropriate thing to do is to not issue any new [tobacco permits].”


Clearing the smoke

15.4 Percent of high school students who smoke cigarettes in California
33 Percent of tobacco sales to minors that took place within 100 feet of a school
$20.4 billion California’s health costs during 2008 — $614 per resident — that were attributed to tobacco use
924 million Packs of cigarettes that are consumed nationwide by kids 12 to 17 years old, yielding $480 million in profits for the tobacco industry

Source: Mayor’s Office

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